Melvin Emde

Melvin Emde, 41, disappeared when he went overboard while kayaking in the Mississippi River near Hahnville just after midnight on Monday, Aug. 7, 2023.?

A man who disappeared while kayaking in the Mississippi River near Hahnville in August faked his death while out on bond for child sexual abuse charges in another state, according to the St. Charles Parish Sheriff's Office.?

Melvin Phillip Emde, 41, of Talihina, Oklahoma, did not drown when he slipped overboard and into the river just after midnight on Aug. 7, authorities said.?

Emde was found alive and well in Tift County, Georgia, about 3:30 a.m. Sunday where a Georgia Highway Patrol officer arrested him following a traffic stop, the Sheriff's Office said.

Emde's son reported him missing back in August, telling deputies that his father drowned near Matis Road in Hahnville. Authorities began a search of the river for any sign of Emde.?

But detectives soon learned that he was facing criminal charges including indecent liberties with a child and statutory rape of a child in Brunswick County, N.C., the Sheriff's Office said. Emde was supposed to be in court on the day he disappeared.?

“We immediately became quite suspicious that this may have been a faked accidental drowning and death in order for Mr. Emde to escape charges in Brunswick County, N.C. However, we could not publicly expose our suspicions for fear of tipping him off,” St. Charles Sheriff Greg Champagne said in a statement released Monday.?

Authorities in North Carolina worked with St. Charles detectives to track the ankle monitor that Emde was wearing while on bond. They discovered that he'd paid a visit to a Walmart in Boutte where he bought two prepaid phones, authorities said.?

The U.S. Marshals Service joined the search, tracking the phone to Oklahoma. Emde would use used the devices for short periods of time and turn them off, authorities said.?

His time on the run ran out early Sunday morning when the Georgia state patrol officer spotted him riding a motorcycle without a license plate, authorities said. The bike's driver tried to flee but crashed, authorities said.?

Emde was taken into custody but gave a false name. He was identified via fingerprints, authorities said.?

“Now it’s time for Mr. Emde to face the music for his charges in North Carolina," Champagne said.?

Email Michelle Hunter at mhunter@theadvocate.com or follow her on Twitter, @MichelleHunter.